Walking Down the Path of Destiny - A Barrier of Ice

· Disclaimer: Fushigi Yuugi belongs to Yu Watase, Flower Comics and many others.  It is obvious that we aren't making any money out of this, or we wouldn't have remained impoverished schoolgirls.

· Summary: What if Chichiri had met up with Amiboshi and Suboshi when they were still nine-year-old children? Would the twins join the Seiryuu Seishi? Would Suboshi still be the traumatised teen that he was? And what of Chichiri himself?

· Spoilers: For the entire series, the twins' novel (though there are some dramatic changes), and Chichiri's past (not for Chichiri's novel, though).

· Notes: Now, now, it wouldn't be that hard to drop in a few decent reviews, would it? However, please don't flame, though constructive criticism would certainly be welcome.

Prologue

He saw the log coming, yet Houjun did not make any attempt to avoid it. In the midst of the pouring rain, balanced precariously on the riverbank, his hand clutched those he knew were Hikou's. Through his blurred vision, he could see Hikou's head bobbing in and out of the waters. He held on with his life. 

The log slammed directly into his left eye, and he was involuntarily thrown back onto the grass by the momentum. Little by little, he felt his consciousness ebbing away.

"NOOO!!!" he mentally screamed, forcing himself to hold on, to hang on that very last thread of hope; even so, it was too late.

He felt Hikou's fingers slipping away from his, and Hikou's head disappeared under the swift undercurrent. Lurching himself forward, he blindly grabbed for what he knew was hopeless.

Then, all was black.

***

It was awhile before Houjun regained consciousness. His left eye throbbed, consumed in pain and fire. Like a razor's slash. Staggering up, he touched his left eye. His hand came away covered in red, the sharp tang of blood filling his nostrils. Dimly, as if in a dream, the thought that he was blind registered in his mind. He couldn't even bring himself to care about it.

As he recollected what happened, a single tear streaked down from his good eye.

He couldn't even save his best friend.

Hikou, and Kouran, lost to the world, forever gone, and all because of him. He was a murderer, and he had killed his best friend and fiancée in cold blood.

Pain seared through his soul, his mind consumed in agony and inferno. And then he screamed, so loud it was deafening, as if he wanted to drown this cruel world in his voice.

As he did so, he was oblivious to the pale reddish glow that seemed to emanate from his body. The light grew around him, and when Houjun opened his eyes, the disaster before him stunned him speechless.

An entire tree burst into flames from root to crown, then another, and another, the fire so bright it blinded him temporarily, leaving a purple afterimage in his eyes. To his utter horror, he found himself enveloped in a bright glowing sphere, unharmed. A sphere the color of fire.

Then, just as quickly as it came, the light dispelled before his very eyes. When the last remnants of the shimmering aura faded away, Houjun sensed that his right knee was feeling strangely warm.

Still shaking his head violently to deny the scene before him, he looked down at his knee in disbelief. Through his tattered clothing, he thought he saw flickering specks glowing motes there. A bright red similar to the blinding aura a moment ago. The colour of fire.

Gingerly, he rolled up his pants. When he reached his knee, he failed to stifle his shocked gasp.

There, embedded in his left knee, as if part of his very skin, was a glowing red Chinese character of the symbol,  "Well". Cold fear grasped his heart. What creature had he turned into?

Unbeknownst to Houjun, the appearance of this character symbolized the start of a preordained destiny, a destiny written by the stars.

***

The flames died down after a while, as droplets of rain fell from the sky. Houjun was still in a daze, staring into the nothingness that was all he saw, not even acknowledging the change in weather, which seemed to mirror his current predicament. Too many things happened, all too soon, all too fast.

Houjun was by now soaked in the rain, and drops of it dripped off his pale blue hair and pattered to the ground. The bleeding from his left eye had stopped, and the blood washed away by the rain, stinging his wound. He was certain that he had lost one eye now, but what did it matter? He stared down at his hands, which not too long ago clutched those of Hikou's, who was now lost to this world forever, just as was Kouran.

He finally dared himself to look down at his right knee. The character was still there, but it was faded now that he had significantly calmed down. He willed it to appear, and it responded, permeating from his tattered pants with a mystical glow just like before. And when it did, he felt a surge of energy flowing inside him, one he had not felt before.

Is this supposed to be good or bad? What in the name of the four gods had happened to him?

***

Just then, his surroundings began to change, the scorched forest being replaced by mountains and valleys so beautiful Houjun forgot about everything else for a moment. He felt himself moving, and looked down. To his bewilderment, he found that he was being suspended by nothing but a rug in midair.

Now WHAT?!

The flying rug took him closer and closer to a palace on top of the tallest mountain around, beneath it a carpet of cottony clouds. The sight was awesome and did not fit into any sense of logic at all. Houjun did not even know what to make of all of this, but resigned himself to see what else would follow.

The rug set him down gently in front of the palace, and after making sure it was solid floor he was on, he stood up. Not a moment too soon, before an old, wrinkly, and if Houjun would permit himself to say it, hag, appeared out of no where, her big crinkly eyes staring right into him. It scared the nine lives out of Houjun, and he fell back onto the ground, trembling.

"Greetings Houjun. You've finally made it to my palace. I am Taiitsukun, ruler and creator of this world you live in."

What?  THE Taiitsukun?

Houjun only managed a blank stare at the old lady with ribbons all about her. Unbelievable. So this is how the ruler of the world looks like.

"I see that you are confused by your recent happenings. Come inside, and I will enlighten you. But first we need to tend your wounds. Nyan Nyan!"

Instantaneously, pink bubbles appeared around Taiitsukun. They grew larger and larger and then with a pop, little girls who all looked alike appeared out of them.

"NYAN NYAN!!!" They all said in unison, faces as cheerful as cheerful can be.

The little girls with green hair and pink frocks came up to Houjun, and without second word, carried him straight up and into the palace. Houjun waved his limbs frantically about, all the while wondering what the HECK is going on.

"TREATMENT, TREATMENT! HEAL, HEAL!" The nyan nyans said in chorus again, as they cleaned and healed up the wounded eye in a hustle. The powers of the nyan nyans were obvious, for in moments, only a neat scar remained, and Houjun no longer felt any pain.

"That was a nasty wound you got there!!" One of the nyan nyans said to Houjun.

"It leaves a scar!" Continued another.

"Don't worry about it! It's not as bad as you think!" Said yet another.

"Yeah! It's nothing when you compare it to Taiitsukun's face!!" quipped the last one.

Unfortunately for the last Nyan Nyan, Taiitsukun caught the comment and wasn't the slightest bit amused. With a quick swish of her arm, she sent the Nyan Nyan hurtling off to space. Houjun stared wide-eyed at the spectacle, not knowing what to make of it.

"That's enough Nyan Nyan, you may leave now." Taiitsukun said evenly when she saw all was done.

"BYE!! HAVE FUN!!" Gleefully the nyan nyans ran out of the chamber they were in, waving and smiling at Houjun.

After the nyan nyans left, Houjun finally took a look at the room he was in. It was indeed huge and palace-like. He couldn't be dreaming now, right? He felt his new scar in the place of his old eye just to make sure, while his good eye roamed the room, taking in as much as he could. It's not everyday you get to be in the Palace of the Creator, you know.

The next view startled him. Once again, all of a sudden, Taiitsukun's big booming face stared right back at him, which fortunately soon settled back into normal size again.

"Time for us to get back to business now shall we, Houjun?"

"Business? What business?"

"Do you have any idea what the symbol on your knee signifies?"

Houjun shook his head.

"Do you know what the red aura you created meant?"

He repeated the action.

"Well, red is the colour of Suzaku, Guardian God of the South, protector of your country, Konan. That aura was the aura of Suzaku."

Houjun nodded. Makes sense when you think of it. He was from Konan after all. But why did Suzaku's light appear?

"Apparently the grief you had to endure prompted the start of your destiny, Houjun." She paused for a moment. "That symbol you bear signifies that you are Chichiri, one of the Suzaku Shichiseishis, or the Seven Suzaku Warriors, destined to protect the Priestess of Suzaku!"

Houjun was dumbstruck. He? A member of the Suzaku Seven? How much more absurd can things get? But this was coming from Taiitsukun, so she couldn't be lying, right?

"How… how can this be? I'm only a common peasant who's just lost all I had…" stammered Houjun, once again consumed by the guilt and grief.

"It is the truth, Chichiri. This is your fate, written by the stars even before you were born. This is what you were destined to be. No running away from it."

***

·  So? How was it? We know that the prologue is actually just a scene played out from Chichiri's past, but we promise the alternate universe fic will begin next chapter! A prologue isn't really the story, is it? Now, just be a nice reader and click on the review button to give us some encouragement, ok?